Honing the skill of public speaking, like learning any other skill, takes hours upon hours of practice. However, there are a few tips and tricks that can be used right away to give your presentation the best chance to resonate with an audience. As a professional Millennial speaker for over seven years, these are the presentation tips I use all the time.
1. Choose to Self Deprecate
Audiences are likely to view you as an authority because you are on stage or have the microphone. Authority doesn't translate to like but rather can foster resentment or skepticism, so quickly counter these audience emotions by self-deprecating.
Be careful not to undermine your expertise but give them the sense that you are just like them. Self-deprecating can help put you on the same level as the audience. Giving the sense that you and your content are perfect will only result in distrust. People like and trust people who can laugh at themselves.
2. Control the Introduction
If you don't take control of the introduction that is used before your presentation, the introducer might copy your entire website bio and subject the audience to a very dry and stuffy five-minute introduction. It will make you extremely uncomfortable, and you will have lost the audience before you even take the stage.
Providing a short, credibility-boosting, personal, and clear introduction that is to be read verbatim is not a diva request, but rather it's the key to positioning you as the authority on the topic and preparing the audience to best receive your information. Don't forget to sprinkle in some self-deprecation, such as, "Please help me welcome speaker, author, and below-average golfer...Ryan Jenkins."
3. Use a Call-Back
There is a blissful moment in a presentation when the audience gets a glimpse that the presenter is fully present and that the presentation is just for them. A call-back provides that moment. A call-back is when a presenter references something that the entire audience has experienced together.
The call-back can be in reference to a past comment from an audience member or previous speaker or a memorable moment that the audience experienced earlier that day. The call-back unites the audience with the presenter because it reveals they experienced the same thing together. This tip takes practice and close observation but is sure to win over your audience.
4. Anticipate Disruptions
A disruption can be a presenter's greatest opportunity to connect with the audience because it communicates you are not perfect, often your true personality shows, and/or you experience it with the audience in real-time. Prepare in advance to capitalize.
Prepare your response in advance when someone's phone rings during your presentation. Practice dealing with tough questions that the audience may blurt out mid-presentation. Have a back-up to your back-up plan when the technology fails. Put yourself in the shoes of your skeptics and think through where they will poke holes in your presentation.
If you know your content cold, you won't be fearful of getting interrupted and losing your train of thought which enables you to be more present and roll with the inevitable distractions with greater ease.